25 February 2012

Plymouth main street Part 8

The Corbin-Bechaka House was constructed in about 1865 and designed in the "cube" Italianate style. The home’s architecture developed with successive owners of the house. Horace Corbin had the home constructed in about 1865. At the time it was constructed Corbin owned the entire block on the west side of Michigan Street between Harrison and North Streets. An engraving of his estate is in the 1875 Atlas of Indiana. Corbin contracted with architect William S. Matthews to make renovations to his home in 1880. The original plan was called “execrably designed as to practically deprive its owner of at least one-third of the room which should have been at his disposal…the interior of the home was remodeled in its entirety”. The second owners, the Hesses, made additional changes to the home in about 1915. The Hesses contracted with William Foker, a local stone mason of some fame, to create a new front porch and a new porch on the south side of the home. It seems reasonable that the concrete terrace walls that form the south and east edge of the lawn was constructed at about this time. This would have also been about the time the estate was divided into building lots. The third owner, the Bechaka family, was the first to enclose the porch and added the decorative iron balcony railing during the early 1950s. The home had extensive restoration under the fourth owner, the Emmons family, in 2005.

Horace Corbin was born in 1827 in Troja County, New York. By the time he arrived in Plymouth, Corbin was already a practicing attorney. He was elected prosecuting attorney for Marshall County in 1852. In 1862 he was elected State Senator from the district represented by Marshall and St. Joseph Counties. In 1872 he was elected as the city of Plymouth’s first mayor. In 1875 Governor Hendricks appointed Corbin as the judge of the 41st Judicial District. Corbin was also heavily engaged in the real estate business and owned two large farms in the county. He was married to Catherine Houghton, the daughter of John Houghton, in 1853. They had three children: Manfred, William, Horace, Charles, and Cleon. The Corbins are recorded at this location in the 1870, 1880, and 1900 censuses. Horace Corbin died in 1897. Lewis Hess was the second owner of the house. Hess was the president of the Marshall County Savings and Trust Bank located in downtown Plymouth. Lewis and his wife, Ona, had four children: Pansie, Faye, Lelia, and Frederick. The Hesses lived at this location into the 1930s. Harry Bechaka immigrated to the United States from Greece during the 1930s. He and his wife purchased the home and it remained in the family until the 1990s. Bechaka operated a restaurant in downtown Plymouth.

The Prosper Ball house was constructed in the Dutch Colonial Revival style in about 1915. It is an exceptional example of the style. Prosper and Alice Ball were the parents of five children: Alexis, Mary, Marcellus, Clement, and Richard. In 1920 Prosper’s brother, Alpha, and his mother, Catherine, were also living with the family in this house. Prosper’s father, Phillip Jacob Ball, was a native of Germany who settled in Plymouth in 1872. Phillip founded the drygoods and clothing store in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. Carabin. That partnership was dissolved in 1890 after which time the firm became known as Ball & Company. Prosper and his two brothers, Alpha and Jerome, became sole owners of the business after their father’s death. In 1908 the business was the largest merchant shop in Plymouth and employed fifteen people. The home remained in the Ball family into the 1950s.

This home is considered a bungalow and was constructed in about 1925. It appears that Lyman and Eunice Butler were the first occupants of this house, though they had moved by the 1940s. The Butlers were married in 1924. The home was constructed soon after. Lyman Butler was the Marshall County Extension Agent for nearly twenty-five years until his death in 1947. The Butlers were living at this residence in the 1930 census but moved soon afterward to a home on Pearl Street in the south side of the city.

And that concludes our trip down North Michigan Street....but more to come from other parts of town including the south side.

Plymouth main street Part 7

The home on the left was constructed for Frederick and Lucinda Hill in about 1889 in the Queen Anne style. Hill was the proprietor of W. W. Hill & Son, Bakers and Confectioners. Frederick was the son of William W. Hill, who began the bakery in downtown Plymouth in 1855. Frederick was born in Plymouth in 1857. He was the manager of the Central Union Telephone Company in Danville, Illinois until his association with his father’s bakery. Frederick Hill constructed a downtown business block for the bakery; it has a second and third story meeting hall used by the Knights of Pythias, of which he was a member. The building currently houses the Historic Crossroads Center of the Marshall County Museum. The house was recorded in Wilbur Peat’s book Indiana Houses of the Nineteenth Century. Peat describes the house as Neo-Jacobean and states “so massive a roof on a story and a half house gives the impression the walls are struggling to support excessive weight.” At the time the book was written the house was owned by Harvey Phillips.

The Stevens Home was constructed in 1895 in a blend of the Queen Anne and Shingle styles (above-middle). Smith (S. N.) and Martha Martin Stevens and their children Katherine and George F. had this home constructed for them in 1895. Smith and Martha were married in 1893. Smith came to Plymouth from Argos, Indiana in 1884 after receiving an education from Valparaiso University. He was admitted to the bar and began to practice law that same year. He was the Marshall County prosecuting attorney from 1890-1894 and 1897-1904. He was a member of the Plymouth School Board from 1900-1906. He held the office of Democratic County Chairman, Chairman of the 13th Congressional District, and member of the Democratic State Central Committee. Smith Stevens was the attorney for the State Bank of Plymouth as well as the local representing attorney for three railroads in the city. In 1914 he was elected Judge of the Judicial Court Circuit; he held that office until 1920. He practiced law afterward until his death in 1930. His wife, Martha, continued to reside at the home into the 1950s.

Dr. Thomas and Gertrude Eley and their son Thomas Jr. had this home constructed for them in 1935 in the Colonial Revival style. It is one of the newest homes on Michigan Street. The Pilot News carried an article on the home when it was constructed. It was called a FHA Model Home in the article. Dr. Eley was a medical doctor and surgeon. They lived at 825 N. Michigan in 1930 prior to building this home. Dr. Eley was the secretary of the Plymouth Kiwanis Club when it formed in 1921. Mrs. Eley was a founding member of the Plymouth Tri Kappa in 1946. Mrs. Eley continued to live in the home after her husband’s death. She lived in the home she called the “Candlelight House” into the 1950s.

Who hasn't enjoyed this little cottage? It was constructed in about 1895 in the Queen Anne style. Joseph and Alice Anderson are listed at this address in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Joseph’s occupation in 1910 was listed under commercial trade “brewery” and in 1920 as a manufacturer of cigars at home.

Plymouth main street Part 6

The Logan-Stanley House was constructed c. 1902 in the Classical Revival style. What is commonly referred to as the Stanley home locally, was probably constructed for Harley Logan, an attorney, who appeared to live at this location with his family in 1910. Harley Logan was born in Plymouth in 1864. He served as city attorney and in 1904, became mayor. He was elected to that office again in 1905 and served until 1910. He also was the county attorney during this time. The Stanleys lived at the home into the late part of the 20th century. Eugene Stanley operated the Memorial Album and Records Company from a building on the site. It is connected to the house by a tunnel. Stanley was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives and lost a close election to future Governor Bowen for the house seat in 1956. The Stanley Fountain, in the south side yard of the home, is a local landmark.

The Woodbury Home (on left above) was constructed in 1922. It is an American Four Square with Craftsman style influence. Oscar and Mamie (Beldon) Woodbury had two daughters, Lucille (VanGilder) and Mary (Thompson). The couple lived in their home into the 1950s. Oscar was listed in the 1930 census; his occupation was “odd jobs”. The house on the right was constructed for Francis Garn in about 1907 in the Free Classic style. He was a grain broker in the city. He and his wife, Mary, lived at the home with their son, Rulo, in 1910. The Garns were followed by Harry and Zorah Unger. Harry was an attorney with a large family who lived in the home in 1920. John and Dora Hildebrand lived in the home next. John was a contractor who installed sewers. By the 1950s the Sisters of the Holy Cross had purchased the home as a residence for their members. The home is a private residence again.

This home is a rare survivor from probably the first generation of homes constructed in the original town plat on about 1860. It is has the unusual distinction of being the only Michigan Street home that doesn't face Michigan. It may be classified as an I-cottage or single-pen. The home has some Greek Revival influence with regard to its regular window placement and formality and the broken cornice on its side gables. However, it has an Italianate styled full front porch. Though they were not the original owners of the house, the residents in 1910 were George and Susan Neff and their daughter, Hazel. In 1909 Hazel became a charter member of the Wythougan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. George was involved in the commercial trade selling cutlery. By 1920 George was widowed, but his daughter and her husband were living with him. His daughter was a music teacher and his son-in-law, Chase Smelser, was a civil engineer. In the 1940s the home was occupied by Ray Poetzel and Mary Coffy who operated Ramar Electronics from the location.

21 February 2012

Plymouth main street Part 5

The Cleveland House (on left above) was constructed in the Craftsman style applied to an American Four-Square plan in about 1915. Charles and Mary Lamson Cleveland came to Plymouth with their only child, Arnott, in 1891. They previously had lived at Edgerton, Ohio. Cleveland founded the Edgerton Manufacturing Company in Plymouth in 1891. The company became the largest producer of basket and fruit packaging products in the United States. Cleveland was elected mayor of Plymouth in 1910 at which time he turned over control of the company to his son. By 1920 Charles returned as an assistant manager of the factory. Mary continued to live at the residence after her husband’s death into the 1930s.

The Miller House (on right above) was constructed in 1911 in the Free Classic style. William Foker, renowned stone mason from Argos, was responsible for the porch and foundation. Welcome J. and Clara Heyde Miller had this home constructed for them in 1911. They lived here with their daughter, Virginia, who was born in 1909. Welcome was a piano tuner and salesman in the county. He was tragically killed at a railroad crossing in Plymouth in 1942. Clara continued to live at the home into the 1950s.

The Cullison House was designed in a unique Plymouth blend of the Free-Classic and Craftsman styles. The home was constructed for the Frank and Eveline Cullison family in about 1908. The Cullisons moved to Plymouth from a nearby farm in 1900 to begin a business in the manufacturing of wagon wheels. The business evolved to the manufacturing of buggies at which time it became known as the Plymouth Wagon Works, located on East LaPorte Street in the downtown. The business continued to grow and became known as the Plymouth Body Works which manufactured truck bodies used throughout the United States. The Cullisons raised three sons at the home: Darrel, Floyd, and Oscar. In 1930 they moved to a cottage at Pretty Lake and shortly after the business failed during the Great Depression.

Plymouth main street Part 4

The Metsker House was constructed in 1917 in a blend of Queen Anne and Shingle styles. Clay Metsker was a prominent newspaper owner and politician in Marshall County and Indiana. Metsker was born near Delphi, Indiana in 1869. He graduated from DePauw University in 1891 and moved to Beloit, Wisconsin. He managed the Beloit newspaper for four years during which time he also became the head of the county’s Democratic Central Committee. He relocated to Plymouth, Indiana in 1897 and purchased the Daily and Weekly Independent, a local newspaper. In 1902 he purchased the Plymouth Democrat, a newspaper begun by the McDonald family and then owned by Daniel McDonald. He merged the two newspapers into the Plymouth Democrat. Metsker was elected State Representative from Marshall County in 1900. In 1904 he gave the keynote address at the state Democratic convention. He toured the state of Indiana with presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan in 1908, and gave the introductory speech for presidential candidate James Cox to a crowd of 10,000 people in South Bend in 1920.

In 1930-31 Metsker self-published a book of his own poems entitled The Glow Book and a book he authored about prohibition entitled Booze On It’s Hunkers, Or A Nation’s Awakening. Metsker constructed a number of downtown business blocks including a building for Democratic headquarters and the Rialto Theater. In 1917 Clay Metsker purchased the home site and constructed this home for his wife, Nellie, who was ailing with tuberculosis. Nellie died in 1919, having lived in the house less than two years. The Metsker family owned the home into the 1950s. Clay died in 1949 but his second wife, Mabel, continued to reside at the home.

The Dr. Reynolds House was constructed in about 1905. It could be termed a stripped down version of the Colonial Revival style. The builder's choice of massive molded concrete block for the walls adds to the scale of the house. Dr. Carl Reynolds, a veterinarian, operated his practice from this location from about 1905 through the 1930s. Louis Overmyer, a shoe merchant, and his wife Estella, lived at the home in 1910; George Rafferty, a clothing salesman, and his wife Alma, lived at the home in 1920, and George Strohlein, a cashier for the railroad, and his wife Ruth, lived at the home in 1930. Carl Reynolds’ father, George, was a local physician and appears to have had his office and residence in this block earlier in the 19th century. Carl’s mother, Martha, lived with her son at this address in 1910. Martha is shown as the owner of the property in the 1908 plat of the city.

The Price-Murphy House was designed in the Queen Anne style. Jacob Price, a brick mason, constructed this home for himself in about 1905. He lived here with his wife, Jessie, and sons Carl and Clyde, and his daughter, Helen. They were still living here in 1920. Price is shown as the owner of this lot in the 1908 plat of the city. Gray and Edith Murphy purchased the home during the 1920s. Gray was a salesman at a grocery store. John Murphy, Gray’s son, lived here with his family into the 1950s.

15 February 2012

Plymouth: main street Part 3

The Oliver Soice House was constructed c. 1880 in the Carpenter Gothic style. Though the home has had its wood siding and decorative trim either removed or covered with vinyl siding, some aspects of the house are unusual. The house was constructed in a cruciform plan with each leg of equal length; a rarity in Marshall County. Local lore states that the home was situated in such a way (angled toward the intersection of Michigan and Monroe Streets) due to speculation that the railroad would pass east to west north of the courthouse and this house was a speculative depot. Nothing has been found to substantiate that. The original design of the home was in the Carpenter Gothic style with vergeboards, finials, and roof cresting. Originally there were no dormers located on the house and a porch wrapped around the southwest walls.

The Oliver Soice family lived in the home from at least the 1890s through the 1930s. Oliver Soice was born in Bremen, Indiana in 1855. He graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan before moving to Plymouth. He held the office of deputy county treasurer for twelve years and was elected treasurer for one term. He was an original organizer of the State Bank in Plymouth and was its cashier. Olive, Oliver’s wife, continued to live at the home after her husband passed away.

Adelbert and Atha Clizbe constructed their home in about 1902 in the Free Classic style. The Clizbes were the owners of Clizbe Brothers Manufacturing Company. The firm, located in Plymouth, was incorporated in 1896. It manufactured grinding and polishing machinery and light counter shafts. It was in business into the 1940s. The Clizbes lived at this home until about 1940.

Plymouth: main street Part 2

The Schlosser House was constructed in 1910 in the Tudor Revival style. Samuel Schlosser was a partner in Schlosser Brothers Creamery, located in Plymouth and Bremen, Indiana. The creamery was founded in Bremen in 1884 and operated at several sites in north central Indiana. Samuel became president of the Plymouth branch in 1901 and of the corporation from 1927 until his death in 1938. Samuel married Ada Hodges in 1900; they had three children: Samuel, May, and William. They constructed the home in 1910-1911. Ada continued to live at the residence after her husband’s death and was still living at this address in 1953.

The Humrichouser House was constructed in 1878 in the Italianate style. Henry Humrichouser constructed this home on the site of his original home in 1878. Humrichouser was born in York County, Pennsylvania in 1829; he came to Plymouth in 1850. He was involved in the grain and stock business and had a large grocery and merchandise establishment in the city. After his retirement in 1877 he became a gentleman farmer with two large farms in Center Township. He also became a director at the State Bank. Henry married Rachel Hunter in 1858 in Ohio. They had two sons, William and Harry. William died at the age of 21. Harry was born in 1866 and became the sole inheritor of his father’s estate due to his mother’s death in 1903 before Henry. Harry lived at the home into the 1920s with his wife, Winnie, and three children. Harry became part owner of the local telephone company. In 1909 the Wythougan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was organized at the home; Winnie served as hostess. The Kain family purchased the home in the 1940s and it continues to be in their family today.

Plymouth: a main street like no other. Part 1

I assisted a group of architecture students and their professors in a design charrette in Plymouth. In their final report with the charrette they said that "Plymouth's main street was like no other, unparalleled in Northern Indiana." I think that they may have been correct. I intend to do a multi-part series on Plymouth's main street, which is named Michigan Street because it is the historic Michigan Road. I hope to highlight some of the best architecture of the street and give you the stories behind the elegant homes that line this graceful tree-lined Hoosier treasure.

The J. C. Capron House (above), constructed in 1900 in the Queen Anne style.
John C. Capron was born in Plymouth in 1871. He graduated from Stanford University in San Francisco in 1893 and started his law practice in 1895. J. C. Capron was captain of Company M, 157th Indiana Volunteers during the Spanish-American War. In 1894 he married Harriet Cullen of Plymouth. Capron was the Marshall County court stenographer for his father, Judge A. C. Capron, during the late 1890s. Capron lived in the home only a short time before it was sold to Clinton and Florence Bondurant. Clinton was born in German Twp., Marshall County, Indiana in 1870. He was engaged in the real estate and loan business and was county sheriff from 1900-1904. He married Florence Field in 1897. The Bondurants lived in the home with their daughters Helen and Dorotha in 1910 and 1920. The couple was still living at this address in 1930.

The former First United Methodist Church parsonage was constructed c. 1889 in a blend of Italianate and Gothic Revival styles. The original owner of the home is unknown but by 1910 it was being used as the parsonage for the United Methodist Church, which, at that time was located at the intersection of West LaPorte and South Center Streets. The congregation constructed a new building in 1914-1915 two blocks south of this home on the same side of Michigan Street. It was used as their parsonage until about 1951. The federal censuses and city directories reveal some of the ministers who had lived here; they include Ernest Wareing (1910), Otto Martin (1920), Robert Ross Shannon (1930), and Richard Blake (1949). Blake was living at the church’s next parsonage near the church in 1953.

In the days ahead we'll continue down the block-stay tuned!

Gafill Oil Company in Argos

My great-grandfather (above) may have started our family in the fuel business with his employment as the agent for an oil company in ...